Planet Rugby

Five-try Toulon thrash Montpellier

21st December 2013 15:48

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Toulon continued their impressive form on home soil on Saturday with a dominant 43-10 victory over Top 14 rivals Montpellier.

The Stade Felix Mayol faithful were treated to five excellent tries from les rouge et noirs, who secured a bonus point as they restricting Montpellier to a single five-pointer.

Toulon led 19-3 at the interval thanks to a try from former Springbok flank Juan Smith.

Wing David Smith, hooker Jean-Charles Orioli, former Wallaby Drew Mitchell and England flank Steffon Armitage added their names to the scoreboard after the break for the hosts while Montpellier's only reply came via Mamuka Gorgodze.

The result provisionally moves RCT to the head of the league standings, though they are likely to lose top spot to Clermont, who host stone-last Biarritz later on Saturday.

Nevertheless, the impressive victory in their last home game of 2013 will come as a welcome morale-booster for the European champions, who have blown hot and cold this term.

Solid defensively and fluid on attack, Bernard Laporte's led from start to finish but took a while to take control of the game with the opening exchanges highlighted by a few thundering hits from Bakkies Botha and Gorgodze.

But once Juan Smith had touched down for the opening try (in the 36th minute), Toulon grew in confidence, using Jim Hamilton's yellow card just before half time for a professional foul as the springboard to a comfortable win.

Jonny Wilkinson gave the hosts the lead in the ninth minute with a crisply-taken penalty but the animosity between the two sides threatened to boil over when Botha - who had blown a kiss at Montpellier fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc prior to the penalty - came to blows with Gorgodze, who is set to play for Toulon next term.

The two sides got back to playing rugby and Trinh-Duc levelled the scores in the 16th minute with a penalty but Wilkinson restored Toulon's lead a couple of minutes later when Montpellier strayed offside and added another in the 23rd.

Montpellier's indiscipline ruined their hopes of winning the match as they messed up their few forays into Toulon territory with petty infringements.

Wilkinson had to go off temporarily after suffering a nose injury -which required two stitches - when being accidentally trod on by Robert Ebersohn.

However, in his absence Toulon scored a try through Juan Smith who went in in the left hand corner in the 33rd minute after good work by scrum-half Sebastien Tillous Borde - former Wallaby fly-half Matt Giteau added the extra points for 16-3.

Montpellier were torn apart again four minutes from the break with David Smith and Giteau involved and only prevented from scoring a try by Hamilton's deliberate offside which finally broke the referee's patience and he sin-binned the Scottish international - Giteau converted the penalty for 19-3.

Toulon took full advantage of Hamilton's absence as they extended their lead shortly after the restart as Smith went over and they added a third when hooker Jean-Charles Orioli touched down in the 47th minute.

Giteau converted for 31-3 and the Toulon fans performed their traditional showering of newspapers when their side gets a bonus point.

Montpellier at last conjured up something constructive and Gorgodze bustled over the line to score a try which was converted for 31-10 - but minutes later former Wallaby Drew Mitchell scored his first try in the Top 14 as he intercepted a Trinh-Duc pass and ran it back.

Giteau converted for 38-10 and despite Montpellier once again being reduced to 14 men when replacement centre Wynand Oliver was sin-binned Toulon were unable to add to their total until three minutes from time when number eight Steffon Armitage - who looks set for a long run as Chris Masoe is out for rest of the season - finished off a flowing move in the left hand corner.

Toulon travel to Racing Métro for their last fixture of the year while Montpellier will look to end a five-match losing streak at home to Biarritz.

The scorers:

For Toulon:
Tries: J. Smith, D.Smith, Orioli, Mitchell, S. Armitage
Cons: Giteau 3
Pens: Wilkinson 3, Giteau

For Montpellier:
Try: Gorgodze
Con: Paillaugue
Pen: Trinh-Duc
Yellow cards: Hamilton, Olivier

Toulon: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Drew Mitchell, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 David Smith, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 Sebastien Tillous Borde, 8 Steffon Armitage, 7 Virgile Bruni, 6 Juan Smith, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Jean-Charles Orioli, 1 Xavier Chiocci,
Replacements: 16 Benjamin Noirot, 17 Florian Fresia, 18 Jocelino Suta, 19 Pierrick Gunther, 20 Rudi Wulf, 21 Maxime Mermoz, 22 Michael Claassens, 23 Martin Castrogiovanni.

Montpellier: 15 Pierre Berard, 14 Rene Ranger, 13 Anthony Tuitavake, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Lucas Dupont, 10 Franois Trinh-Duc, 9 Jonathan Pélissié, 8 John Beattie, 7 Mamuka Gorgodze, 6 Paul william Grant, 5 Sitaleki Timani, 4 Jim Hamilton, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Mickael Ivaldi, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili,
Replacements: 16 Thomas Bianchin, 17 Maximiliano Bustos, 18 Thibaut Privat, 19 Alexandre Bias, 20 Benoit Paillaugue, 21 Wynand Olivier, 22 Anthony Floch, 23 Naama Leleimalefaga.

Referee: Sébastien Minery

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